Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Biggest Priority of All

Last week, the Government announced a building target of three million homes by 2020, two million of which are to be delivered by 2016. This is now an absolute priority for New Labour and supersedes both health, defense and education, leaving the audit commission to comment that such a priority has only been seen three times in British history, during the industrial revolution and at the end of the First and Second World Wars.

For those of us in Thanet worried by the spread of concrete and increasingly busy roads, Housing & Planning Minister, Yvette Cooper, had few words of comfort. “We are not”, she said, “going to build our way out of traffic congestion”.

So what does this all mean for us?

The good news is that £732 million will be spent helping councils with the infrastructure costs if they support new housing or to quote the Minister, “Those councils and communities that are doing their bit to deliver new homes should get more cash” but where this cash will really go remains a mystery and every indication is that it will join all the other money going North to places such as Leicester and Northampton, to name but two, rather than towards a Thanet which has seen its central government support slashed this year.

Contrary to what South Thanet MP, Dr Ladyman has said about our island’s so-called over-achievement in housing, Thanet is apparently not building enough houses, because so-called ‘Windfall sites’, the bungalows springing up in gardens around the island don’t count in the housing targets. No, apparently, we need to build at least 30 more units per annum (as instructed by SEERA - than are being built already, just to stand still.

Bearing in mind that in Kent, 8% of homes are in the private rented sector and in Cliftonville West, this figure is 59%, perhaps you should know that the council is receiving an average of 314 applications for social housing each month from people that live both inside and outside Thanet. With 4000, people or families now on the council's housing register, The Conservative Group that leads Thanet District Council has decided it urgently needs to introduce a new housing allocations policy: “To give appropriate priority to local residents and discourage the inward migration of vulnerable people to Thanet.”

Far more attention needs to be been given by Government to the scale of the problem facing our local population. The London Borough of Newham, as one example, has 5,800 people in temporary accommodation, who cost rather more to keep in London, than they might if sent to accommodation in Kent. While Thanet welcomes migrant workers that make a contribution to the growth of our local economy, what is Government actually doing to address the constant migration pressure from London?

Ironically, for the last two years, Thanet has actually put more people back in work than any other part of the South-east and the council is working hard to deliver both affordable homes through agreements with developers and reduce the number of vulnerable people living in non-decent accommodation through effective licensing and enforcement activity.

This government is going to try and build its way out of a housing crisis and both infrastructure and carbon-neutrality will suffer as a result. While we are trying to draw breath and at least get the patient, which is Thanet’s own infrastructure and housing problem, back on its feet, Government not only wants to suffocate us under even more concrete but it appears unlikely to give us anything near (if at all) of the financial support it will apply to more important constituencies running-up to the next General Election.

Draw your own conclusions.


Jonah said...

What this Government will never do is admit that its lack of immigration controls for 10 years has now led to a situation where we cannot meet the demands of our 'native' population AND demands for housing of the massive influx from Eastern Europe who intend to stay and have brought their families over here.
Competition in London for room will mean that TDC is batting on a losing wicket and will never be able to cope with the demands for housing in Thanet until the whole Isle is covered in houses.

If this Government is taking a realistic look at population forecasts in this country, how is it going to feed this population in a situation where it admits 'Global warming' will affect crops world-wide? When we have covered Grade 1 agricultural land with factories and housing (as we are doing in Thanet) where are we going to grow cereals?
The hiccup in world cereal production this year and consequent price rises need to be heeded as a warning. The inescapable fact we ignore at our peril is that starvation could return to these Isles in the next 50 years; all it needs is a major crop failure in any major rice/cereal growing area of the world. The slogan will not be 'DIG FOR VICTORY' as we dig up our lawns but 'Dig for your life!'. The primary duty of Government is to ensure the 'safety' of its population; the primary need for our safety is food.

tony flaig bignews said...

One of the biggest problems facing Thanet, is of course the lack of leadership, take Dreamland your tory gang has done nothing to save Margates biggest asset.

On another issue again its those who run Kents administration (county tories) who have over the years done virtually nothing to improve the roads infrastructure at westwood and linking us to the rest of the world still no dual carriage way into thanet.

Dont worry about labour to much since your colleagues in Maidstone have done Jack for this area and you know it.

DrMoores said...

I'm starting to worry about your grasp of economics and market forces Tony. You are almost implying that their is some kind of Tory conspiracy to do Thanet down? Quite the opposite in fact, as I witness each time I attend the council offices!

tony flaig bignews said...

Put as simply as I can resource are and have been creamed off for the benefit of Maidstone and West Kent for years.

DrMoores said...

Well that's something that I will quite happily join with you in asking questions. While I'm not sure there's such a thing as parity I do suspect that our own position does rather make us a distant cousin at times. Mind you, investment is invariably drawn towards the "hub" of any county. Would you agree?

tony flaig bignews said...

no as it happens

Anonymous said...

Whoops- a fact check is in order here……

Tony, I hope you will forgive me pasting direct quotes from your post;

“take Dreamland your tory gang has done nothing to save Margates biggest asset”

The Council is not there to spend taxpayer’s money on shoring up a business (Dreamland) that is patently failing. I think we’d face a storm of protest if we did (not that the Council could afford it). The current development proposals preserve Dreamland’s most iconic landmarks, the Scenic Railway in particular, and revive others. Times, tastes, and markets move on.

“On another issue again its those who run Kents administration (county tories) who have over the years done virtually nothing to improve the roads infrastructure at westwood and linking us to the rest of the world still no dual carriage way into thanet.”

Wrong target. Wrong facts.

The failure to negotiate funds from the developers of Westwood Phase 1 was a Labour Group failure – they were in control at the time, and it was a blunder of epic proportions. Nothing new there, then. This has now been reversed (by the “Tory Gang”) and work is now starting on the New Haine Road. More to follow.

Delays to the East Kent Access, a major KCC project, and the main access-ways into Thanet. are directly and simply down to inadequacy of (Labour) central government funding. The same shortages are affecting major road schemes in Ashford and Chatham.

“Dont worry about labour to much since your colleagues in Maidstone have done Jack for this area and you know it.”

Barely begs a reply. The new Westwood roads are a joint venture between KCC and TDC. Hardly “doing Jack”. KCC have been co-operative and inventive in wringing funds out of the lost opportunities left here by the Labour Council in Thanet.

Sorry, Tony, but facts do have to creep in somewhere.


Ewen Cameron

(A Tory Gang member – just ordinary people, elected to do their best)

Tony Beachcomber said...

Cllr Cameron you can bang out on your drum "its down to Labour" as much as you like. But in May 2008 the tories would have been in control of TDC for five years and things in Margate have gone from bad to worse.

An example of how your party is managing things at present.
They say the grant to the EKMT is 100,000 in fact it is 79,000.
They say visitor numbers are 10,000to museums when they are 15,000.
Out of the museums grant the EKMT has to pay 7,000 to insure the councils art collection so if the grant is cut you have lost 7,000 saving already by insuring your own art.
For a council on a tight budget you have a lot of fine tuning to do before February if this is the competance level.

DrMoores said...


Having attended a presentation on the EKMTs current business status with Cllr Cameron, the situation is rather more complex and delicate than you paint it. This is a subject of proper discussion and is being explored as sensibly and impassively as possible.

Tony Beachcomber said...

My concerns are for the Margate Museum, how can running the Margate Museum be complex and delicate on a 32k budget excluding insurance of course. All the EKMT does at Margate is run the franchise, the collection belongs to TDC and EKMT manages the operation.

I applied to be a trustee on the EKMT earlier on in year and that stalled which came as no surprise. The actions of their previous directors wasn't entirely helpful to the EKMT forward plan and their collection of floating scrap metal is proving to be a liability. Perhaps the council is doing the decent thing as one would do with a terminaly sick animal as far as the EKMT is concerned. But why should the museum at margate be a casualty.
I have been involved at the Margate Museum since the EKMT took over, I have been a TDC member and chair of the joint museums committee and it doesn't take much for me to piece together what the problems are, to be honest nothing comes as a surprise.

I was once part of a group rival to EKMT that was prepared to run the museum with a plan ten years ago. It set out to achieve financial sustainabilty based on models of other sucessfuly run venues. This was flatly refused by TDC. The current situation comes as no surprise.